Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Shooting Water - Devyani Saltzman

Devyani Saltzman, Deepa Mehta's daughter, worked on the shooting of the movie 'Water' -  third in the 'Fire', 'Earth' series. 'Fire' got a lot of people excited because of the scandal of lesbianism (not our culture) and the culture-protectors finally made sure that a story of ostracised widows in society (to expiate their bad karma!) never makes it through Mehta's vision. The story is set in 1938 but then we can be offended at anything as long as there are headlines and cheap political mileage. The book is Devyani's journey through the shooting of the movie.

Devyani's father and mother divorced early on. Her father has European roots. She came to shoot 'Water', fell in love with Vikram who is working on the movie (but also has a girlfriend) and tries to mend her relationship with her mother.

The story of 'Water' is powerful. A group of fourteen widows are fending for themselves - the youngest is only eight (child marriage). The group is led by a 70-year-old cannabis addict who manages their finances by pimping a young widow. The young widow falls in love with a young Gandhian and attempts to run away only to find that his father is a client of hers. She kills herself. When the old widow tries to pimp the eight-year-old, another widow helps the little girl escape.

The shooting of the movie however never took off from its proposed shoot in Varanasi as mobs of Hindu saviors ensured that the set was burnt and the movie does not get shot. This despite the script getting clearance from the BJP Government - Minister I&B, Arun Jaitley. They met the District Magistrate, even RSS chief Sudarshan to no avail. Shabhana Azmi and Nandita Das shaved off their heads for their roles in the movie but the movie packed up after a day or two. Anurag Kashyap wrote the Hindi screenplay. Rahman gave the music.

After four years the movie is made - shot in Sri Lanka with a new cast. Lisa Ray. John Abraham and Seema Biswas. Devyani does the stills for the film. The making of the movie seems to mark some closure for the mother-daughter.

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